‘Anarcho punk legend’ Steve Ignorant returns with his new acoustic project Slice of Life follow their 2014 debut ‘Love And A Lamp-Post’ with a new collection of eleven songs titled ‘Don’t Turn Away’. Accompanied by Carol Hodge, Pete Wilson and Pete Rawlinson as the Slice Of Life our man Anto Morra discovers Don’t Turn Away may be mellow, but the emotions and feelings are definitely not…
Steve Ignorant is a singer/songwriter and artist. He co-founded the anarcho-punk band Crass with Penny Rimbaud in 1977. After Crass stopped performing in 1984, he worked with other groups including Conflict, Schwartzeneggar, Stratford Mercenaries, Current 93, and US punk band Thought Crime, as well as occasional solo performances. Steve is also a wood sculptor and volunteer on the Sea Palling Independent Lifeboat, has written his autobiography –All The Rest Is Propaganda- and has worked as a traditional Punch and Judy performer using the name Professor Ignorant.
In 2007 he performed Crass’s entire Feeding of the 5000 album live at the Shepherds Bush Empire and throughout 2010-2011 presented The Last Supper, touring/celebrating the songs of Crass around the globe, ending with a farewell gig at Shepherds Bush Empire in November 2011. In 2013 Steve and Paranoid Visions decided to record an album. The result ‘When …?’, a hybrid of styles, all with a nod to early 80s anarcho-punk. They now perform live on special occasions. Steve is now performing with his new band Slice Of Life. A far cry from the aggression of Crass, nevertheless compelling with powerful songs delivered in an acoustic style.
Debut album Love And A Lamp-post was released on Overground records in late 2014, surprising many with its honesty and change of style for Steve. A new bassist followed in early 2015, along with new songs and extensive touring all over the UK, as well as dates in Finland, and festival slots at Rebellion, Wickerman and Something Else A Bit North.
The opening title track tells you exactly where Steve Ignorant is coming from, if you don’t all ready know. A bloke that just wants to walk his dog Evie in a better and more just world than the one run by the ‘dodgy toupee’ wearing war mongers we have at present. ‘Your Day Will Come is’ a beautifully aggressive delivery to ‘Bully boys & laddies’ that take joy in acts of sadism that Karma will come for them. Oh, how I hope he’s right!
‘The Right Way’ is a joyful rant from the perspective of the pig-headed male we’ve all met down the pub, and occasionally as we get older, believe we may have become.
(“Anyone that has suffered a loss or has to deal with depression and/or despair YOU are not alone”)
I’ll apologise if I have misinterpreted what is being said in the next song ‘S.A.D.’ but it felt to me like quite a cathartic out pouring of grief with an advisory instruction to get bereavement counselling of any sort if required! Steve’s delivery, the backing and melody on this song brought to mind David Bowie, Lou Reed and even a touch of Leonard Cohen.
‘Slaughterhouse’ is a return to the short sharp shock 100% punk Mr Ignorant is known and loved for. A message to assert yourself, read between the lines and make sure you believe before you commit. ‘The Story Continues’ is a lyrical punch in the guts. Tragically beautiful, depressingly true and perfectly said. ‘Song For Myself’ is a bleak celebration of getting to an age that you’re expecting the bells to toll for you, but hoping they’ll continue to ring out for you instead so you can enjoy home comforts and having another pint. ‘Diffrability’ a statement of what set him apart from the rest. I think the one word missing in this song is integrity. ‘Stretford Blue’ is a dig at all those that have become masters of marketing revolution, those Punk icons that have become the very corporate Hippies they told us not to trust. ‘Good Intentions’ this record just gets better. A melody we’ve heard a million times before but with a lyric so refreshing and courageous. I can’t think of any other artist that could approach the dangerously sensitive subject of gender politics in a song today and treat it with such balance, gentleness and anger in equal measure. ‘Whistle Down The Wind’ the perfect closing track calling us to arms in order to protect our world, our rights and the values we have to hold on to because ‘This is our world’.
Well that’s the lyrical content dealt with. Musically it can be summed up very briefly as beautifully sparse, classy and clever arrangements with fantastic performances and musicianship by all concerned.
Much the same can be said of the sonic quality. The production values are also second to none.
I don’t get a lot of time to do reviews these days but when the opportunity came up to review Steve Ignorant’s Slice Of Life’s new album I couldn’t resist. As I get older I become less forgiving and many of the singers and bands I really looked up to, have become very stale and turned out to be complete arseholes and continue to scratch a living from nostalgia! So that is what gives Steve Ignorant ‘Diffrability’. Back when I was a youngster Crass were vital, scary and not remotely commercial or easy to listen to. I was more in love with the idea of them and the graphics they produced, than the music they made and would be much more likely to put Elvis Costello or Stiff Little Fingers on my turntable.
I think Honey Bane’s ‘A Big Piss Off To The Music Buis’ EP was the only record on the Crass label that got played regularly by my teenage self. I loved it and am pleased to say I still have my original copy.
Steve Ignorant is still fighting the good fight and, unlike almost all of his contemporaries, has not sold out by continuing to tour or churning out the same stuff he was doing 40 years ago.
My older self loves nothing more than hearing songs about stuff that matters and this ticks all boxes. It’s Sleaford Mods meets Dr John Cooper Clarke, for Southerners and The Streets for people bored of those Hip Hop beats.
When I look at the Music Industry today and those Punk pioneers of radical change, it’s like it never happened! So I’m kind of delighted that Steve Ignorant is still here to prove it did happen. It was important and there was much more too it than loud music, screaming, leaping up and down and gobbing at each other even if that was what was a lot of fun when we were young.
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Don’t Turn Away is released on Overground Records which gives us a nice chance to plug Rock’n’Reel ,run by the indomitable Sean Magee, who occasionally works for Overground. It’s the UK’s best selling eclectic music magazine featuring all manner of Roots, singer-songwriter, Folk, Rock, World and Blues since 1988. WebSite Facebook